My name is UT Pay. I’m 19 years old. And I was born in Kralanh District, Siem Reap Province. My Parents are farmers. My mom also works both jobs and supports my father working in the field while doing house chores as a housewife.
From grade five to nine, I stayed with my younger brother at home. He is 16 years old. He finished Secondary School in 2022, but he stopped learning. Because our family finances were concerned problems. Currently, my brother is working in Thailand with my parents. My parents work hard and have stayed far away from me since I was six years old until now. However, they normally spend one week per year visiting our relatives and me, especially in Khmer New Year or Pchum Ben.
My childhood was very lonely since I barely had time with my parents. In 2018, I started my high school journey. I was living with my roommates for three years. In the meantime, I received support from one NGO called CWCC (Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center from 2018 until 2019). I was very lucky to have their support and motivate me. I had tried so hard before I always keep in mind what my mother told me, “I don’t have money to support you in studying.” At the same time, I felt worried because I love education.
I always love teaching and learning with Youths and Children. My experience was volunteering for one month to help them improve their reading skill. They were so happy. I always commit to study hard as I know crystal clear the value of education which will improve my life, family, and community for the better. In my village, there was no English-Computer Teachers at the NGOs or Private schools. Almost all the children and Youths in the village don’t know the importance about this.
I first started learning English, and Computers little bit in Secondary School and High School. I focus any subjects in the class like, Physic, Math, Khmer or chemistry as well. During grade 12, I had the courage to apply for three Scholarships opportunities to study at university, but I could not make it.
Despite those challenges, I have never given up on learning. After that, I came to study in the Better Future Program at JWOC for ten months for free. I learned the subjects such as Computers, English, and Soft Skills and graduated in December 2022. I feel very thankful to have this chance to open my eyes wider.
At a great time, I received the opportunity to intern at REACH for six months while learning at JWOC. It was my first time getting to know REACH. I really enjoyed activities with Children, Youth, Cycling, and Repair Shop. Unforgettably, I had the chance to join Side by Side event in January 2023. I’m so excited because I know the new places, meet new people, and everything around me was new and fascinating. After I finished interning at REACH in January, I got another great chance to work with the Staffs at REACH as a full-time job. My responsibility there is Youth Leader.
The life of a young girl from a rural area like me is very common here in Cambodia. But not everyone is lucky enough to make their step into this kind of environment which is full of positivity and motivation. I am so glad and amazed to be a part of this changemaker group.